Bpost Bank Trofee: Kevin Pauwels slogs through the mud to take the GP Sven Nys
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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Bpost Bank Trofee: Kevin Pauwels slogs through the mud to take the GP Sven Nys

by Ben Atkins at 10:20 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results
 
Becomes only the fourth different winner of the Kannibaal van Baal’s race

kevin pauwelsKevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) escaped through the thick mud of Baal, to take victory in the GP Sven Nys, in the eponymous Belgian champion’s hometown to the north and east of Brussels. Pauwels drove clear of a four man group, which included Czech champion Zdeněk Štybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), and his own Sunweb-Napoleon Games teammate Klaas Vantornout, on the fourth of seven laps.

Aided by a puncture for Albert, Pauwels steadily opened up a decisive lead over the technical course, and finished more than a minute clear of Štybar. Albert, who had lost a lot of time riding on his flat back tyre, finished another ten seconds later, while Vantornout was beaten to fourth place by a strong finishing Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea).

Despite losing more than a minute to Pauwels, Albert’s overall lead in the Bpost Bank Trofee still stood at 3’53” with two of the eight races to go.

Vantornout pulls a group clear in the slippery, muddy course

The course had been affected by the recent, sustained, wet weather in northern Belgium, reducing the usually muddy track to slurry in many places. Designed to suit the strength of the eponymous Belgian champion, this was to be the first of the race’s 14 editions to take place without the presence of Nys, who was suffering from bronchitis.

Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) was first away from the line as usual, with Radomir Simunek (Kwadro-Stannah) right behind him; both riders showing new colours, with a new sponsor for Vantornout’s team, and a new team for Simunek. Martin Slamalik (KDL Trans) then moved ahead, pulling a little way clear, as the field negotiated the slurry of the course midsection.

Steadily, Vantornout made it across to the Czech leader, easing his way past after a particularly wet switchback, but the duo was soon joined by Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games), Marcel Meisen (BKCP-Powerplus) and Simunek. As most of the pack passed through the pits to change bikes, the group of five edged a little way clear; as Vantornout escaped again after the long staircase, however, Pauwels stumbled a little and the rest of the field caught up.

Vantornout was away alone by now, however, and, as he crossed the line at the end of the first lap, he was 12 seconds clear.

Štybar stumbled on the first of the two early hurdles, bringing down Meisen, allowing Vantornout’s lead to grow; the Czech champion was soon back up and chasing though, with Albert and Pauwels tucked in behind him, and the gap began to close again.

As Vantornout passed through the pits, the chasing trio was not far behind him; under the GvA sprint banner, however, his lead was still ten seconds, with Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink) and Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) following soon afterwards.

Štybar beat Albert to the second place, but the World champion’s lead in the overall Bpost Bank trofee was such that the bonus seconds on the line were academic at this point.

At the end of the second lap Vantornout was still a few seconds clear, but the Sunweb-Napoleon Games rider was caught by Štybar, Pauwels and Albert soon afterwards. Having caught the leader Štybar pressed on, and began to pull out a lead of his own on the stickiest part of the course.

Štybar breaks away but Pauwels is the one to finally escape

The three others refused to allow the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider to get away, however, and soon pulled up to his wheel. Through the wettest part of the course Štybar kicked again, stringing the foursome out; this put Albert into trouble, but the two Sunweb-Napoleon Games riders managed to hold onto the Czech champion’s wheel.

Through the pits, and up the stairs, the World champion managed to regain contact, while, behind him, Peeters began to try to leave van Amerongen behind.

Štybar was still fighting up front, and an acceleration on a long bumpy descent saw him pull Pauwels clear of the other two. Albert was the one doing the chasing, with Vantornout apparently beginning to tire, but they were ten seconds behind the two leaders at the end of lap three.

Štybar was doing his best to get rid of Pauwels, while, behind him, Albert was more successful in dropping Vantornout. The World champion began to make his way across the gap to the two leaders; Pauwels was not keen to let him, however, and took the front, putting pressure on the aggressive Štybar.

This move saw Pauwels successfully move clear of Štybar, who now had Albert gaining on him; on a short, straight section of tarmac, the three riders were more or less equally spaced, a few seconds apart.

Pauwels pulled a few seconds out of Štybar, who dropped back a little closer to Albert and, across the line at the end of lap four, the Czech champion was 11 seconds back; the World champion was just two seconds behind, and he soon caught up as they left the tarmac.

Albert’s puncture ends his chances but Pauwels is unstoppable anyway

Pauwels was still well clear, but Albert began the task of pulling him back, and he began to leave Štybar behind; the Czech champion fought back, however, passing Albert in turn, as the World champion suddenly appeared to be struggling with a puncture.

Gritting his teeth, Štybar began to fight to close down Pauwels up ahead, as Albert took a new bike and set about trying to reduce the damage done. Pauwels was riding metronomically at the front of the race, however, as he had done in the Namur World Cup, and was beginning to extend his advantage.

Meanwhile, behind the three leaders, Vantornout had been caught by Peeters and van Amerongen, but was fighting to break clear again.

Across the line with two laps to go, Štybar’s deficit to Pauwels was 28 seconds, while Albert - following his puncture - was now 40 seconds behind. The Vantornout, Peeters, van Amerongen group was more than a minute back at this point, and seemingly just racing for fourth.

Albert now had the bit between his teeth and was steadily reeling in Štybar, but neither was making any progress on Pauwels in front. Although he was initially gaining on Štybar, the World champion was almost a minute behind the leader at the now-defunct GvA sprint banner and, at the bell, Pauwels was 48 seconds ahead of Štybar, and 1’04” ahead of Albert.

Behind the three riders fighting for the podium places, Peeters struck a blow in the battle for fourth as he managed to break clear of Vantornout and Van Amerongen. Another minute behind this group of three, Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) had broken clear of a big group, and was making a bid for seventh.

Pauwels was comfortable in his lead, however, and, changing his bike for one final time, ran up the steps and launched himself down the bumpy, technical descent that followed shortly afterwards. The Sunweb-Napoleon Games rider was still going strong on the wettest part of the course that followed, as Štybar was wobbling a little on the descent behind him.

Wiping as much of he muck as he could from his brand new skinsuit, Pauwels raised his hands to become only the fourth different rider to win the GP Sven Nys. Štybar cruised in 1’11” later, and Albert crossed the line after 1’21”, just ahead of a charging Peeters.

Two wins in three days for Katerina Nash in women’s race

Katerina Nash (Luna Chix) followed her Diegem victory with her second in three days in the women’s race. The former Czech champion managed to ride clear of a four-woman group, which included European champion Helen Wyman (Kona), Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) and Belgian champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) to win alone once again.

An early break from Nash came to a halt when she crashed at the foot of a short, muddy drop off, which allowed Wyman to get ahead. The group of four riders soon formed behind the British and European champion, but she tried to escape once again.

Nash proved too strong, however, and caught and passed Wyman, who soon found herself drifting back behind Harris and Cant. Harris managed to get rid of the Belgian champion in the closing stages, to take second place, with Cant taking another podium in third.

Result Elite Men
1. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
2. Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
3. Niels Alert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus
4. Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
5. Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
6. Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink
7. Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea
8. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink
9. Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike
10. Radomir Simunek (Cze) Kwadro-Stannah

Result Elite Women
1. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Chix
2. Nikki Harris (GBr) Telenet-Fidea
3. Sanne Cant (Bel) Enertherm-BKCP
4. Helen Wyman (GBr) Kona Factory Racing
5. Annie Last (GBr) Milka Brentjens Racing Team
6. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Sengers Ladies Cycling Team
7. Meredith Miller (USA) California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized
8. Pavla Havlikova (Cze) Telenet-Fidea
9. Ellen van Loy (Bel) Melbotech Cycling Team
10. Githa Michiels (Bel)

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